Midland | The Sonic Ranch Review
By Tom Faddis
Midland is back with an intimate collection of songs recorded in 2014. The ACM Award-winning country band shares a sonic moment from their formation and earliest sessions in a new documentary, Midland: The Sonic Ranch, and an accompanying soundtrack, The Sonic Ranch – both out March 19. “”In the spring of 2014, we took 11 days out of our very separate lives to head down to the Sonic Ranch, a studio nestled along the dusty American side of the Rio Grande outside El Paso, Texas,” recalls the band in a statement. “Midland was not so much a band as an experiment fueled by an assortment of spirits – but mostly tequila and the possibilities painted in our imaginations. We had no record label or manager, and we had never played a show together. These recordings capture three friends, alive-in-studio in the desert, trying to make a dream come true.” The Sonic Ranch is fourteen tracks, the only track “Fourteen Gears” ever made it to an album giving Midland fans a chance to hear fresh material.
“Cowgirl Blues” has a catchy drum beat and lets you know this is the place to be if you want to listen to some good modern country music, which is why these guys have no qualms about exploring their own path. The sound is a brazen wallop that immediately invokes their brash, pioneering sound even back in 2014. With a good Country music twang in the vocals, Midland adds their own flair to the Cowboy story, adding their own instigative discretion to the deconstruction of thinking. The drums’ cutting swirl, the strumming guitars, and the melody’s elastic phrasing will hold against margin and genre.
Hearing the walls come down with a bit of bluegrass and a traditional country tune called “Worn Out Boots.” As the pedal steel ricochets around the melody, “Worn Out Boots” is a cool listening experience as they fall headfirst into a feel-good selection with sounds of the old school country; there’s nothing wrong with that: nothing earth-shaking, simply good music, and good pickin’.
Midland is a remarkable band that has refined their songwriting technique into a unique style that weaves beauty out of many country sound elements on The Sonic Ranch. Their music is adamant, compelling, and sometimes genuinely heart-warming.